A newspaper man, his ignored fiancée, and his former employee, a down on his luck reporter, hatch an elaborate scheme to turn a false news story into the truth in order to prevent a high-society woman from suing for libel.
Now back in San Francisco after their holiday in New York, Nick and Nora find themselves trying to solve another mystery. It's New Year's Eve and they are summoned to dinner at Nora's elderly, and very aristocratic, family. There they find that cousin Selma's husband Robert has been missing for three days. Nick reluctantly agrees to look for him but the case takes a twist when Robert is shot and Selma is accused of murder. Several other murders occur but eventually Nick gathers everyone into the same room to reveal the identity of the killer. Written by
"Come on, let's get something to eat. I'm thirsty."
Some weeks ago I expressed my absolute enthusiasm for 'The Thin Man (1934),' a delightfully humorous murder mystery/comedy classic, starring the inimitable comedic marriage of William Powell and Myrna Loy as husband-and-wife detectives Nick and Nora Charles. This original film, after a solid box-office run and four Academy Award nominations, spawned a respectable five sequels, and a radio and television series. 'After the Thin Man' is the first of these sequels, released in 1936.
As the original trailer for the film proudly proclaims, 'After the Thin Man' brought back the three writers of the original hit (Dashiell Hammett, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett), the same director (W.S. Van Dyke) and, of course, the three huge film stars in Powell, Loy and, of course, Asta the dog (the wire-haired terrier whose birth-name was Skippy). True to its promise, the film is every bit as witty, hilarious and suspenseful as its predecessor, masterfully melding Nick and Nora's playful banter with another twisted mystery of love, betrayal, blackmail and murder. And look out for a memorable supporting performance from a young James Stewart, who was yet to hit it big with the likes of Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock.
The sequel takes place just a day or two after where 'The Thin Man' left off, as Nick and Nora prepare to depart from the train that brought them back home to San Francisco. Like the original film, the actually murder mystery is quite a messy one, though the writers have luckily decided to tone down, just slightly, the number of interwoven threads this time around. With nothing in mind but sleeping for a month, our favourite detective couple are surprised to walk into a welcome-home party held by people they don't even know, before they are invited to Nora's Aunt Katherine's (Jessie Ralph) house for dinner. Whilst there, Nora's cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) reveals that her husband, Robert (Alan Marshal), has been missing for three days.
The filmmakers have, once again, managed to round up a terrific cast to complement the talents of its two sparkling leads. I particularly enjoyed the contribution of Jessie Ralph as Aunt Katherine, who absolutely detests Nick and addresses him as "Nich-o-larse!" Nick's obsession with alcohol also continues, though he maintains his uncanny ability to switch painlessly between a drunken stupor and completely alert sobriety. The good-natured inter-marital sledging that made the original film so enjoyable still carries a razor-sharp wit, and, in one hilarious sequence, Nick even goes as far as pretending not to recognise his wife so she can be temporarily detained in a jail cell.
'After the Thin Man' is one of those very rare occasions when a sequel is good enough to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with its predecessor. A mixture of clever writing, talented directing and an infectious chemistry between the cast members worked to ensure that the partnership between Nick and Nora Charles would be a prolonged one.
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